My dear friends!
Last Epoch has become for me, a big fan of the ARPG genre, a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, the current version of the game is replete with so many flaws and overtly weak solutions that I decided to express my impressions in detail after a few hours of playing. Read this text not as a boredom of a sated player, but as a sober criticism of a person who has something to do with game development in this genre and therefore evaluates a product primarily from the point of view of its convenience for an ordinary player.
And one more important point. I live in Russia, so English is not my native language. Therefore, I ask you in advance to treat condescendingly possible errors and typos. If you do not understand a piece of text - feel free to contact me in the comments, I will formulate it more carefully. Let’s go!
Character and Inventory
- The first thing that catches your eye is the incredibly low speed of the hero’s movement around the location. Given the gigantic (we’ll discuss it later) size of each location and the high density of monsters on them, this factor greatly stretches the gameplay, turning it into a routine. The player has no way to increase the speed of movement (excluding Magician’s teleport, which allows you to literally skip some separate locations), this is ultimately only frustrates the players – you can see, how many topics with complaints have been created on the forum.
How can we solve the problem? Firstly, add a modifier to each Boots in the game that increases the speed of movement. Secondly - to provide players with a universal mechanism for fast movement: a crafting component (for example, for rings and amulets), which would endow any character with the ability to Blink or Dash.
- Tiny inventory size. This problem exists in all ARPGs that came out after Diablo 2. Why "after"? The fact is that the small size of the inventory in that game was justified from the point of view of the gameplay: there were "talismans" in the game, which gave passive bonuses to the character while they were in his traveling bag. Therefore, the limited size of this bag allowed game designers to balance the game and did not allow characters to become gods with colossal stats.
In the case of Last Epoch, limited inventory is just a reason to constantly distract from the game and teleport to the city to sell your loot. Considering that the locations and dead monsters are reset to zero after each re-entry - this frustrates the player and makes it difficult to fully immerse into the meditative process of exterminating monsters.
How to fix: increase the number of inventory cells, add additional slots.
- Crafting Materials. The implementation of the concept of “stones with affixes” in the game appeals to me, but their management sometimes raises questions. Okay, I am grateful to the developers for the fact that these stones should not be stored in the inventory or chest, but in a special panel, but …
Question: why make them pick up these stones first in their inventory, and not immediately put them in storage?
Answer: so that these stones can be transferred to other characters through a common trunk.
Question: If so, why not immediately make for all characters (except Solo mode) a common storage in which they will place components for crafting? Why make each character manually transfer another component to another when you can simply combine the common pool of these components on your account?
- Item Transfering. What do I say… Shift+rightclickin in not intuitive. At all. Why can’t I simply drag’n’drop my items to vendor? There was always be one simple mechanic: rightclick\Ctrl+click on the tem to by or to sell. But here it’s just painfull.
I also hope that in the future, developers will add a pop-up window when you hover the cursor on the object, which shows the characteristics of the current equipment of the player. This will allow you to quickly compare items to each other and choose the best.
Game definitely needs an ability to disable prompts in the menu or the option "Disable prompts" when the first pop-up window with tutorial flaff appears.
The “Skills and Specialization” panel cannot be closed using the mouse (there is no Cansel button or a cross in the upper right corner). In other panels, it is present, which is very convenient.
Non-working button "Teleport". You can call the portal into the city only by pressing the corresponding button on the keyboard (“T” by default). In addition, this button on the interface panel confuses the player, as it is highlighted from the very beginning of the game (although the ability to teleport will open to the player much later) - and it is not pressed.
A surprisingly small number of active slots. The player has only 4 active skills + 1 active skill on the right mouse button. Visually on the screen there is still a lot of free space - why not use it? In the current version, the interface can be easily expanded to 8 slots (say, 1234 + QWER). I understand that most players will not use 9 active skills at the same time - but it is important to leave everyone a space to experiment and create their own builds.
Differentiation of the buttons "Movement" and "Strike". In all hack’n’slash games that exist today, the “Strike” button works comfortably and intuitively, combining the function of moving around the location and the basic attack on the enemy. Yes, if desired, the player can assign the “Walking” button to her place (which may be useful in some cases), but this is just one of the options.
Why do I think this is a problem? Players are accustomed to the fact that, starting with Diablo, the mouse buttons allow them to make the most basic gaming bundle: the “Go / Attack” button + the active skill button. And now players are forced to use only 1 button, either under attack or under active ability, since one of the buttons will always be occupied by the movement function. Given the previous point (a small number of active slots), this system further limits the capabilities of the characters.
World map. In this case - specifically the network of teleports and the visual display of the locations under them. In the case of a maximum or almost maximum scale (say, if a player wants to look around the entire map), the inscriptions and teleport icons become so small that it is completely impossible to read them. This can be solved by text scaling depending on the current map scale.
Autoloot mechanics. In the current version of the game, the player needs to literally “step on” the character model on the object in order to pick it up. Often in the thick of battle, or as a result of the screen being loaded with icons with the names of the dropped loot, this can be very difficult to do the first time.
How to fix: significantly increase the radius of the autolooting and add the option of automatic selection of components for crafting and things of a certain color.
- Tiny dialogue window. Not only that the text itself and the active options in it are made with too small font, so the World Chat window also climbs onto the active area! So many times I, trying to bargain or accept the quest, clicked one pixel to the left - and instead opened the chat.
And – please! - prevent the character from moving while in communication with the NPC. It is worth accidentally clicking anywhere, except for the active line of the dialogue, as the character runs off into the distance - and the dialogue remains open.
Combat and Spells
Since I just started playing Last Epoch and have not yet had time to complete the game, I can’t fully discuss the balance and specific combat mechanics. Now I have only one remark:
Mage’s spell "Fire Shield". Give me one reason why this spell is not a passive aura with no duration limit? The need to update the spell every 14 seconds causes only frustration, despite the fact that it practically does not spend mana - so this fact can hardly be attributed to mana management.
Yes, you can note the fact that in the tree of passive perks of this spell there is an option that doubles its duration after full bleeding. But, firstly, 28 seconds is still damn little and makes no sense. And secondly, if the developer wanted so much to force the player of spending skill points to increase the duration of the spell, then why not just leave one single option that would cost 1 point of skills and make the spell permanent? This would force the player to invest in the development of the ability and thereby save both time and nerves.
Monsters and locations
- My first and most important complaint is everything related to locations. I do not want to discuss the graphical aspect of this issue and the fact that many locations consist of the same assets, which makes them indistinguishable from each other. Now the game is in beta testing, and I hope that the developers will still be able to improve the graphic component of the product (it’s not for nothing that we paid the full price for the game).
There is another thing that outraged me. Each location (with the exception of a few starting ones) is a huge maze in which there is absolutely nothing to do. Dozens of branches from the main route lead to nowhere, extremely rarely rewarding the player for research with at least an ordinary chest (in which, as a rule, there is practically no interesting loot). It would not be such a big problem if … Locations were not updated with each new entry / teleport. I do not see a gameplay excuse for this, but this fact is incredibly frustrating. Sometimes even the layout of the location changes, which is why the character finds itself at a completely random point and has to try again to navigate the terrain - which is almost impossible to do, since all the assets, as has been said, are exactly the same. And that brings us to the second big problem.
- Minimap. In the current version of the game, the minimap is implemented so ineptly that it does much more harm than good. Due to the fact that the locations are updated every time after a new entry, the player has to explore the area in a new way, even if they have been in it many times. The internal map of the game (the Tab button by default) does not have a zoom option, which completely devalues such a map — the player sees exactly the same space on it as on the mini-map. At the mini-map, by the way, there is no scaling option either, which once again makes it difficult to orientate and forces the player to wander for hours in the same maze, disrupting anger on his inhabitants.
How to fix: add scaling options for both maps. In the case of a mini-map, these are the “+” and “-” buttons; in the case of an internal map, the Tab + mouse wheel scrolling.
- Enemies and their location. In general, I pay tribute to the efforts of game designers, who presented the game with various types of opponents with their own attack strategies. However, the “density” of the monster resettlement is very uneven. At the very beginning of the game there are so few of them that you can be bored frankly - they do not pose a threat at all (and this despite the fact that the game does not punish you for death at all, but only teleports the player to the control point). However, at some point the level of danger of enemies increases so dramatically that the character will die in almost every battle where there is a more or less powerful enemy or miniboss (this is especially noticeable in the lands of the undead).
Hack’n’slash is a genre built on a cheerful genocide. Paying more attention to the location and the number of monsters (especially in the initial stages), you will make the process of engaging in the game more intense, which will attract newcomers and keep the existing audience.
- Traders. The first time we meet the merchant is practically in the second game location, when the character still has no physical items for sale and money to buy something valuable (especially considering that the merchants never sell something useful and money in the game for the most part the account is needed only to reset the characteristics). Then follows a long, very tedious game section, during which the player loads his pockets with loot to the eyeballs … And only much later, when the player leaves lying on the floor stuffed in a fair fight (because the small inventory is full again), he again gets access to merchant and chest.
How to decide: to put the merchant not at the very beginning of the game, but exactly midway between the starting location and hab. Although, let’s be frank, if you throw out the starting journey and just allow the player to start right away in hab, the game will not lose anything, but will only save the player time.
- Crafting table. All the above applies to the workshop. Access to crafting is open from the very beginning of the game, the components are falling to us almost from the first enemies, but for some reason, the player decides to present this mechanic to the player after a few hours of play, when there is no need for it.
At the moment, this is almost all my claims. Only subjective aesthetic preferences, which can hardly be considered “objective criticism”, remained inaudible. For example, I am terribly disliked by the design of the enemies in this game. Void is the most boring choice of "world evil." Back in Torchlight 2, these piles of purple jelly looked ridiculous and ridiculous, and killing monsters that exude tar was just plain dull. Flies, bears, spiders - all this is commonplace, which in 2019 looks more funny than interesting. The same applies to writing - the text is written so boringly that you absolutely do not want to get a grasp of it.
But these are my personal preferences, which I would not like to impose. I believe that if the developers take the time to work on the bugs and more elaborate work, then the game can have a great future. I would be happy to provide Eleventh Hour Games with all possible assistance - I am waiting for your comments.
Sincerely, Hermes Trismegistus